We live in an era where you can visit the Louvre in Paris, or the Museum of Modern Art in New York without getting up from the couch – looking at your smartphone or computer. So is it worth going to museums to see the collections? And how, having to stand in line and buy an expensive ticket to the famous treasury, to get the most positive experience?
Museums can be intimidating. Large ones, such as the British Museum in London or the Louvre in Paris, are ancient building complexes with millions of objects in permanent collections and hundreds of thousands of exhibits available at any time. Most people see very little of what the museum has to offer. It is impossible to see everything, even in dozens of visits, let alone one.
1. Need a plan. To really enjoy the museum in a short time, you need a plan. You need to know and navigate the interiors. One of the recommendations is to first go looking only at the floor in order to accurately master the navigation. And only then return, drink a cup of coffee for vivacity, and already go along the route, calmly examining the masterpieces outlined in the plan without wasting time.
2. A museum is a menu, not a to-do list. Don’t get carried away by the first one you come across. People, as a rule, lose too much energy and minutes in the halls, which are located near the entrance. When they reach the treasures in the depths, they are already tired and begin to suffer. Do not torment yourself with the goal of seeing everything at once – in this way you will not see a single work. It is impossible to perceive a picture or appreciate a sculpture, which is many centuries old, “on the fly”. Museum masterpieces deserve to be considered and discussed. Viewing the exhibition is often compared to studying the menu. In a restaurant, it would not occur to you to order too much, but you will want to know more about the chosen one. Follow the same principles in the museum – choose the main dish. And enjoy.
3. The museum is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Therefore, you need good shoes, light clothes, no heavy bags, and a cheerful state of health and you need the drive to walk in confined spaces for several hours. In such a special “sport”, like-minded people are useful nearby, and not small children or casual acquaintances. They can go the distance or spoil your result.
4. Take breaks. Small pauses and gatherings in the museum cafe will not worsen the mood. Rather the opposite. Switching attention is useful because any monotonous activity tires the brain and dulls the sharpness of attention. There is the so-called Stendhal syndrome when a person experiences dizziness and other unpleasant symptoms from an “overdose” of art. One way to relieve tension is to massage the ears and the back of the head.
5. How to avoid the crowd? Weekends are for virtual tours. Weekdays are for connoisseurs of off-line. The worst time to visit the museum is Sunday evening. Especially if the weather is bad outside. Museums around the world hold “nocturnes” – at least one evening a week, they stay open until late. Often this happens on a Thursday or Friday. If the museum is usually open until 18:00, then on such days it can be available until 21:00. This is a great time to see, for example, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, which is usually crowded around in Vienna’s Belvedere Museum. And do it in proud, calm solitude.
Museum workers strive to control attendance and avoid crowds. Large museums are switching to booking tickets – selling them online for fixed sessions (both exhibitions and permanent exhibitions).
6. Find a guide Museums often have additional resources for people who want to go deeper. Free Wi-Fi and Internet will always come to the rescue when you forget the date or the context. Another great resource if there is no language barrier is the audio guide. Sociable extroverts can be advised to chat with curators and museum staff about their favorite masterpieces, they are an inexhaustible storehouse of information. And, of course, a thematic lecture or a professional tour with a connoisseur will make visiting any exhibition an unforgettable experience.
7. Home preparation Should art be beautiful? “My son can do the same,” is a common remark of a person who encounters abstractionism or minimalism for the first time. It makes no sense to go to the museum of modern art, being an implacable lover of realistic paintings by Repin, Shishkin, and Korzhev. The expression of Lucio Fontana will not touch the soul in any way, and the performance of Marina Abramovic will cause an unpleasant shock. Quick help in eliminating illiteracy is a movie, a documentary, or a feature film about an artist and, of course, the Internet, where you can always find exhibition announcements and competent articles by art critics.
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